Even as the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday approved Oxford-AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Dr Balram Bhargava seemed rightly concerned over the inoculation drive in the country.
"We don't know for how long vaccine is going to be effective, we don't know how much of the population we'll have to vaccinate to break the virus transmission. What we know is that we've been able to control the pandemic in the country by following COVID appropriate behaviour," new agency ANI quoted Dr Balram Bhargava as saying.
The ICMR chief further opined that masks, used to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, may never go. "I am of the opinion that masks will probably be the last to go & probably may never even go," he said.
Meanwhile, hailing the approval given to two coronavirus vaccines as a "decisive turning point" in the spirited fight against the pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that this will accelerate the process for India to become a COVID-free nation.
In a series of tweets after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved Oxford's vaccine Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for restricted emergency use, PM Modi said it will make every Indian proud that both the vaccines are made in India.
"This shows the eagerness of our scientific community to fulfil the dream of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, at the root of which is care and compassion," he said, congratulating the nation, scientists and innovators.
He once again extended his gratitude to doctors, medical staff, scientists, police personnel, sanitation workers and all 'Corona warriors' for the outstanding work they have done in adverse circumstances, and said the nation will remain eternally grateful to them for saving many lives.
"A decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight! DCGI granting approval to vaccines of @SerumInstIndia and @BharatBiotech accelerates the road to a healthier and COVID-free nation. Congratulations India. Congratulations to our hardworking scientists and innovators," he tweeted.
The approval by the DCGI was given on the basis of recommendations submitted by a COVID-19 subject expert committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
(With PTI inputs)